The Airmen's Stories - Sgt. H R Mitchell
Herbert Robert Mitchell was born at Havelock, Marlborough, New Zealand on 13th March 1917, the son of William and Edith Mitchell.
He worked in the Public Works Department there and afterwards as a stonemason in Greymouth.
In late March 1939 Mitchell applied to join the Civil Reserve of Pilots and began training at the West Coast United Aero Club in June. He volunteered for the RNZAF at the outbreak of war and reported to the Ground Training School at Weraroa on 17th December 1939. He went to No. 1 EFTS Taieri on 16th January 1940 and then to No. 1 FTS Wigram on 11th March.
After completing his training Mitchell sailed for the UK on 12th July 1940 in the RMS Rangitane. He was posted to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on 10th September and, after converting to Hurricanes, he was posted to 3 Squadron at Turnhouse on 28th September.
Mitchell moved to 615 Squadron at Northolt on 20th November, joined 260 Squadron at Skitten on 1st December and after eighteen operational sorties he moved to 41 Squadron at Catterick on 15th May 1941.
Above: with 615 Squadron.
Commissioned in early January 1942, Mitchell was posted to 603 Squadron at Abbotsinch in early April. The pilots of the squadron embarked on the carrier USS Wasp soon afterwards and flew their Spitfires off for Malta on 20th April, landing at Luqa. Mitchell shared in destroying two Me109s on 9th May and damaged another.
On the 12th he took off from Ta Kali on an interception patrol in Spitfire Vc BR127. He failed to return, the aircraft being seen to crash into the sea.
Mitchell is commemorated on the Malta Memorial.